Lions enter playoffs confident, realistic

The regular season is finally over. After two months of competition and endless hours practicing, the field hockey team must shift its focus to the playoffs. A 15-3 overall record may seem impressive, but in the postseason, anything is possible. In order to be the best, the women cannot rely on their past successes, but rather come together as a unit and show up to play. In the playoffs, each game has the potential to be their last.

“I am happy with the group of girls, and they are really clicking as a team,” head coach Sharon Pflugar said. “They’re great to work with because they are hard-working girls and have improved (so much since the beginning of the season).”

Pflugar stressed the importance that the week leading up to the playoffs was crucial.

“It was extremely important because, in my eyes, we had to finish strong,” Pfluger said.

In their first game against nationally ranked Ursinus College, the Lions managed to stay in contention the entire time, but a late goal proved to be costly as the women lost 4-3.

Junior Victoria Martin helps the Lions rally against Messiah. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

“I can see where we made our mistakes, but I also saw that we did a lot of good things in that game too,” Pflugar said. “It is just a matter of identifying where there was an issue and working on it. We’ve already done that.”

Adjustments were quickly made, and five days later the women were back in action against Messiah College. In the past, the Falcons gave the Lions trouble, beating the College four of the last five times.

This day proved to be different, though, as the women quickly shrugged off an early deficit to take a 4-1 victory. Freshman forward Lexi Smith led the team with two goals.

“We played well and scored some big goals,” Pflugar said. “We came out right after half time and scored right away, so I really just think the team played very well that day because Messiah is a good team.”

Much like in the week’s prior game, the women had little time to relax as Johns Hopkins University posed to be a legitimate threat.

The Lions didn’t flinch, though, and won 4-2 in convincing fashion. Despite winning the game, the women knew they could have played better.

“I think the girls were happy that they won — and we all were — but yet we also walked away saying that we needed to fix certain things,” Pflugar said. “You want to go into postseason play confident enough to know that you can play well and realistic enough to know that certain things need to improve.”

This Wednesday, Nov. 3, Ramapo College travels to the Lions’ home turf to start the postseason. Although the women defeated the Owls two weeks prior, 4-3, they are not taking anything for granted.

“I expect us to play well and win,” Pflugar said. “We will use that game, and we will use every game (to prepare us.)”

There are no guarantees in playoff field hockey, and the Lions know that in order to be the best, they must play like the best.